Caritas grew out of a natural need to help those in need. It was established in Czechoslovakia as a systematically functioning organization exactly 100 years ago, and after the fall of the communist regime, which tried to stop its activities, the church essentially rebuilt it.
Today, the Chairman of the Czech Bishops' Conference, archbishop Jan Graubner, and the director of Caritas Czech Republic, Lukáš Curylo, symbolically started the celebrations of this important jubilee, which will continue until next year and will present not only the history of Caritas and its most important milestones but above all its present, important projects and services that provide to the needy.
An integral part of the centenary celebrations, which has the subtitle For the love of people, will be events for the public throughout the country organized by local Caritas‘. They will be focused not only on recalling its long and interesting history but above all on presenting the highly professional services that Caritas provides and the areas in which it operates and has been helping the needy and people in need for a whole century. The schedule of upcoming events and happenings will be continuously published on our website.
"The need to help people in adverse conditions is essential and has existed since time immemorial. For the church, charity work, in addition to worship and preaching the gospel, is an essential part of its life and a kind of barometer of the acceptance of Christ's thinking into practice. The experience of the First World War showed the need for greater development and unified organization of this service, which was there. That is how Catholic Caritas was created a hundred years ago," reminds Archbishop Jan Graubner. "Caritas has gained the trust of people and authorities, it expands its services, it responds to new situations, and I am very pleased that it is currently one of the most important humanitarian organizations in the Czech Republic, which significantly helps both at home and abroad."
"It would be difficult to count the number of people in need, sick, desperate, on the run, those from whom their difficult life story took away all their hope and faith, whom during its century-long existence Caritas was able to help and ignite a spark of hope for a better future," says Lukáš Curylo, director of Caritas Czech Republic. "I am very proud of the entire organization, the results it can boast of, and the fact that, although it is bound by tradition, it does not remain conserved, but is open to new stimuli and challenges."
Caritas Czech Republic is one of the oldest non-profit organizations in our territory. The first charitable organizations began to emerge at the level of dioceses shortly after the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak Republic. In 1928, the Imperial Headquarters of Caritas was established in Prague. It is, in the true sense of the word, a pioneer of systematic social and health care. The newly emerging Caritas‘ during the period of the First Republic copied the territorial division into bishoprics as traditionally understood by the Church, and they have remained with this division to this day.
Thanks to a well-functioning network of local Caritas‘ (according to data from 2021, there are a total of 275 archdiocesan, diocesan, regional, municipal, and parish Caritas‘) and many years of experience, Caritas Česká republika is currently the largest non-state provider of social and health services without competition. It employs more than 9,000 people and around 50,000 volunteers help in providing its activities and services every year. In 2021, it provided 1,336 services that were used by more than 170,000 clients.
Caritas has been close to people in need in almost every challenging period of our complicated history. It was with the poor and unemployed during the First Republic, helped refugees from the Czech borders in 1938, during the German occupation, and then helped families during the resistance. At the end of World War II, it accompanied people returning from concentration camps. In modern history, it took a significant part in helping with floods in the 1990s and other natural disasters in the new millennium, most recently in the liquidation of damage caused by a tornado in Moravia. It did not remain aloof even in humanitarian aid in places of contemporary war conflicts, for example in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Iraq, or Syria. The only one to whom it was a thorn in the side was the communist regime, which (unsuccessfully) wanted to have a monopoly on aid. However, it failed to do so.
Caritas currently plays a key role throughout the country in helping refugees from Ukraine, but not at the expense of existing clients. Regardless of the amount of daily work, fatigue, obstacles, or adverse circumstances, the parish charities mobilized all their strength and once again managed to awaken an unprecedented wave of solidarity in society. "Everything we do has a common denominator - kind help to other people. One whose name 'charity' we proudly bear. One that brings more joy and less pain. Although the level of necessity of our work is unfortunately very closely related to what unexpected events and natural disasters will hit us," adds Curylo.
press spokesperson of Caritas Czech Republic
phone: +420 603 895 984